A breezy weekend

The last race training weekend at the end of March gave us a gale in the Solent. We seized this opportunity to use the Trysail and Storm Jib to run up to Cowes before returning under 3 reefs. We hit 40 kts of breeze and had regular periods in the top 30s but WS handled well and all the team gained experience of helming in interesting conditions.

March Update

The Fastnet team is full and training is underway, we will have individual places on most races as someone nearly always has to drop out due to work etc. Both Round the island race teams are full and we already have bookings for the 2016 Caribbean 600. RYA courses have been slower selling and there is over capacity with some people doing things I think are ‘cutting corners’. We will stick to ‘if a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’. The second race training weekend went well and the next is on 27th March followed by the Cherbourg race at Easter.

Caribbean 600

Caribbean 600 2015

JC started it all. “I want to do the Caribbean 600 for my 50th birthday”. He is a regular Wild Spirit race team member with Fastnets and Round Ireland’s with us so I thought about it. The logical step was to do it on another yacht in 2014 before putting a package together; along came a 55 foot classic Swan wanting a watch leader/ safety officer, so off I went. Then having selflessly spent 10 days in the Caribbean racing plus researching, we put together a package with On Deck for 65 footer, Spirit of Juno a former Round the World racing yacht. Why such a big beast? Quite simple really, most of the team think they will only do one C600 so, as in the Sydney Hobart, we go for a yacht with the highest probability of finishing if the weather gets bad. The other thing is to find people who can make things happen in the notoriously laid back culture of the Caribbean and On Deck can do this as they are there all year round, whereas the rest are just passing trade. This might seem a small thing but when you need a sail repairing the day before the race it really matters.

Having ‘done the deal’ with On Deck dates were important as the Virgin Flights on Tuesday’s were cheaper than the rest, so 2 weeks it was, and then of course the WAGS decided they would come and have a holiday. So as I type this I overlook the Pool and across the Bay towards Juno as she lies alongside next to the Yacht Club where the superb prize giving party was held last night.

Arriving from a cold, wet UK to 27C of Antiguan sunshine is always a pleasant start and those staying on board went to Juno, whilst I did some shopping, followed by trying to find where I was staying, in a remote house, on a very dark Island, with extremely limited road signs. On Deck had sent a Mini Bus for the on-boarders and I think next year I will be on it even if I then pick up the Hire Car by the boat.

Wednesday morning was handover and in the afternoon we started training. This was the first time I had sailed a Farr 65 and was immediately impressed by how easily she handled. The team were impressed by the on board accommodation which was really good for our limit of 16. The wind blew steadily from the East at 20 Kts and we tried the Genoas and main, practiced tacking etc but only really had the opportunity to fly the kite once. The second new kite stayed in its bag though we did wool it up before the start.

By the time we finished training on Saturday the wind was still 20 kts and forecast for 25 at the start on Monday. Great for us and we enjoyed the party on Saturday night. Sunday had very sensibly been scheduled as a rest and recovery day.

The C600 is less than 10 years old but at the current rate of growth it will probably be bigger than the Sydney Hobart in 5 years’ time. The start is under Shirley Heights with its commanding view of the entrance to Nelson’s dockyard. The sun shone, the wind blew and the helicopter hovered overhead taking pictures. We crossed the line at 10 kts almost taking out a spectator boat before tacking onto the first leg North past Barbuda. Juno handled beautifully in the big . . . → Read More: Caribbean 600

The Maltese Pirate

The Maltese Pirate.

This is a work of fiction and any names of real people and yachts have been changed to protect the innocent etc.

The old Pirate sat in the thin October sunshine musing on the past. Other than refusing his first offer of Mount Gay, because he did not know it was rum, he had few regrets. He was already booked for the Sydney Hobart and Caribbean 600; he had sailed many seas but wondered what fresh challenges might still await him.

An e-mail alert flashed at the foot of the screen and he opened it. An invitation to join a team for the Middle Sea race on an old Cygnet with all grog and rations provided. He picked up the phone and called Vlad whose company was sponsoring the yacht; other experienced racing sailors would be on board. All they wanted was his experience and helming, it all seemed simple, so as he was also simple, he agreed.

Arriving at the Marina of the 5 star Hotel to join Vlad and his team he had some difficulty finding Polarison, mainly as she hadn’t arrived. Vlad and his team were in the Club across the bay so after negotiating a berth for the night on another yacht he went in search of the team. Always just 5 minutes behind their last move he encountered the Maltese Knight who had joined the team to provide local knowledge.

The next day he found Vlad and the Impalers and heard reports that a sail had been seen off Gozo and Polarison would arrive that afternoon. The sail maker and the trimmer arrived, both experienced, English speaking, racing sailors and the old Pirate relaxed in the warm Maltese sun shine and marvelled at the ancient fortifications. True to his word Vlad provided all Food and Grog.

Knowing the ways of the sea and the joys of delivering yachts shorthanded the old Pirate awoke before first light to find Polarison just arriving. He set to work with their crew immediately for he knew that there was a coastal race that day and there was much to be done before the start. Vlad and the impalers went for a long breakfast and boarded just before it would have been too late to make passage for the start.

Having worked in Moscow the Old pirate expected some cultural differences. It became clear that Vlad thought he had chartered Polarison with owners representatives and he would be skipper whereas the company thought they had sold a skippered charter and had put on board Skippy and young Harry (for he was too young to shave and had 2 strange lumps as well which meant for Vlad’s team only suited for work in the galley).

Running his fingers through his grey beard the old Pirate kept his own counsel as he watched the battle for control of Polarison develop. The situation was not helped by another young Pirate from the company doing the tactics at the start resulting in Polarison being several minutes late starting, plus Skippy and young Harry were very tired. Despite all this, Polarison clawed its way to the middle of the fleet. The old Pirate marvelled at the finish, he had seen ships with 2 wheels and witnessed people try and pull them in different directions but he had never before seen 2 people on the same wheel pulling as hard as they could in different directions.

Ashore the animated discussions continued and now involved the owner of the company, the old Pirate watched then went for a swim to consider whether . . . → Read More: The Maltese Pirate

Middle Sea Race

I am now back from the Middle Sea Race. More than half the fleet retired due to the extreme weather. In our case Backstay failure was a major factor. A race report will follow soon but may have to be carefully written due to a dispute between the Team Organiser and Charter Company — nothing to do with Wild Spirit, I was invited to helm for international team.

A couple of places left in next year’s Fastnet team, plus several for Caribbean 600 in February — see racing pages.

I am off to Australia in December for Sydney Hobart and we have little planned on Wild Spirit until training starts in February but if you want to use her or go sailing give me a call and we will see what we can do–I know a lot of people in sailing.

Paul Jackson

I told you so

I have always said September and October are the best months for sailing and now the weather re-enforces that message.The race weekend to Poole is full and we have had to turn 2 people away. there are a couple of spaces left on the other 2 race weekends and 2 left on the cruise across to St Vaast from Thursday evening 2nd October to the Sunday afternoon. At least one good Dinner out and the chance to visit the splendid market at St Vaast plus bring some wine back.

Bookings are up so if you want a place on the last few races or courses don’t delay.

Fastnet 2015 Initial details are now available and we already have 2 bookings.

We take Team Trophy in Round Ireland race

Wild Spirit under Spinnaker in round ireland race

After 10 weeks at sea I am back home and trying to sort out the admin. to make it harder the sun is shining and the Dog thinks he has a few walks credit to use. The sailing round Ireland and Scotland was great, this plus marvelous company made it truly memorable despite a few days bad weather. We picked up some silverware in the Round Ireland race and finished without any casualties despite 39Kts of wind and some 8 metre waves. The race report is below.

September and October are my favourite months for sailing around the Britain, the sea is warmest around 21st September there is no hassle finding a parking place or restaurant table for the night and everyone is pleased to see you.

Our race programme has two weekends suitable for novices and one across to Cherbourg which already has one novice so we will only take one more who has not sailed before. The cruise across to st Vaast is one I always look forward to as I love its Saturday market and a couple of good meals out.

Some RYA courses are full but there are some spaces and if you don’t want to do a qualification you can just come sailing. The summer issue of getting at least 4 night hours in is no longer a problem and the probability of bad weather is less than most other months. Some of the anchorages which just get too congested in the Summer are now nearly empty–I am looking forward to sailing again in a week or so.

Yachting Races from Around the World

Every year there are hundreds of Yachting Races all around the world, some take place on the same race course every year, some take place on difference courses and waters each race and others even circumnavigate the globe. This info graphic created by Wild Spirit Sailing provides a guide to the top yachting races on the sailing calendar. This info graphic travels throughout the world stopping at some of the most popular and famous yachting races along the way from the Sydney Hobart Race in Australia to the Americas Cup in San Francisco and everywhere in-between. Each section of this info graphic gives details of where the race starts and finishes, the location and course length and how many entries each race has. Each section also chronicles the current winners, when the next race will take place and finally a fun fact about each race. For example did you know that the America’s Cup is the oldest international sporting trophy? Or that in 2004 while competing in the Vendee Globe, Roland Jourdain sailed 439 in an unbelievable 24 hours! If you are a sailing enthusiast, a keen competitor or just a curious spectator this info graphic will provide you with all you need to know about the top yachting races from around the world!

Round Ireland race–Wild Spirit takes some Silverware!

Two of the team had helped with the delivery from Lymington to Wicklow but the rest flew in the day before the race. It probably isn’t a good move to be out drinking until the early hours just before the start of one of the world’s classic offshore races, but we were in Ireland and these things happen. Looking at the team the next morning they were more the Motley 7 than the Magnificent.

The forecast had been for a lack of wind but the start saw plenty, two yachts collided and we set off under white sails then hoisted a spinnaker, or rather we tried to hoist it and after quite a long time succeeded. The first 40 miles down to Tuskar Rock were magnificent and we flew our second largest spinnaker with occasional Jibes, some of which were intentional, the team settled down up and we started to compete, by the Rock we were 3rd overall on the official tracking system.

Racing close alongside or friends and rivals from the 2012 race on Desert Star we continued down the southern coast past Cork and Kinsale towards the Fastnet rock. JC took time off the Helm to get some cracking photos of them and they have a video of us we are looking forward to seeing. Here we all ended up becalmed and after several hours Geoff, a very experienced Dinghy racer, managed to get us going again and I took over to claw away from the pack and across Bantry bay. The wind returned and in glorious weather we ran under spinnakers up the west close of Ireland past great Blasket and the Aran islands. Some major races have good scenery but none quite as good as this coast. We were in a good position leading a group, but this has the disadvantage that there was no-one with a similar characteristics yacht to follow and in the absence of any information on the tides we made a tactical error which cost us several places.

Black Rock off the rocky mullet Peninsular was about 20miles ahead and we were concerned that the forecast was for no wind. We could either go out, go in very close and hope for wind down of the mountains or hope to just get through and catch a light NE going tide. The third option didn’t appeal as there was a chance that the tide would take us the wrong side of the Rock, the first meant sailing an extra 10 miles or more with no guarantee of wind. I choose the second option and we ended up becalmed for 12 hours. At least we saw some whales to go with the many Dolphins.

The forecast was for a Force 7 from the SW, then a Gale warning followed, by the time we reached Tory island of NW Ireland we were running before over 30 kts with a reefed main and storm spinnaker. These were seriously big waves (others estimating 8 metres) and we were surfing along averaging well over 10 kts SOG (Speed over ground). Rigger Paul (Now also Navigator) demonstrated some sailing backwards as part of a large broach up a very big wave and I moved to helm for several hours. Harry in his first big offshore race seemed totally unfazed but then he is a Kiwi.

Rounding Tory Island we were still in a full Atlantic gale with sustained wind just under 40 kts. We regularly achieved 14.8 kts through the water and once hit 14.9 with 39 kts of breeze behind us and our Storm Spinnaker up. . . . → Read More: Round Ireland race–Wild Spirit takes some Silverware!